Founding Director, Biotechnology Program
46 Years of Dedicated Service: Leader, Educator, Innovator, Mentor
Dr. Jack Gregory Chirikjian, the founding director of Georgetown’s Masters in Biotechnology Program, passed away peacefully surrounded by family at his home in Washington, DC. on September 30th. 2018. shortly before his 78th birthday.
Born in Cairo, Egypt to Armenian parents in 1940, he emigrated to The United Slates in 1959 where he achieved the quintessential American Dream and was a proud patriot to his adoptive country. Dr. C, as so many lovingly called him, was a Professor of Biochemistry at Georgetown University for 46 years where he touched the lives of countless students and won numerous awards. His capstone achievement was the establishment of the Masters in Biotechnology Program. He was also a successful entrepreneur and founded no less than seven biotechnology companies spanning education and research. Jack was a dedicated researcher and owned numerous patents throughout his career.
Below is a brief timeline of notable moments in Jack’s life, as we celebrate and honor his legacy and achievements:
Born Mergedij Gregory Chirikjian in Cairo, Egypt of Armenian descent on December 10. Shortly Before Failed Invasions by Nazi Germany During WWII
Attended Private Catholic Schools
Son of Armenian Genocide Survivor
Dr. C.’s Father Owned Tailor Shop Renowned for Quality in Cairo
1959 – 1972
Name changed to Jack G. Chirikjian (after Jack Kennedy) at immigration border. Educational journey in the US begins
Immigrates to US in December 1959
Attends Trenton State College on Scholarship
Dr. C. Earns His PhD in Biochemistry from Rutgers in 1969; Starts PostDoc at Princeton
Accepts Position as Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at Georgetown University Medical Center in 1972 (Basic Science Bldg was new!)
Obtained tenured professor after 5 years
Serial entrepreneur journey begins:
Establishes The Bethesda Research Laboratory (BRL), Inc.; Predecessor to Life Technologies, Inc. in 1975
Founds Oncor (Oncology Corporation) in 1983; Develops Early BRAC1/BRAC2 Diagnostics
For a total of 7 companies: Bethesda Research Laboratory (BRL), Inc., ONCOR, Capitol Biotek Consulting, EdvoTek, TreviGen, DNA Depot, Amelia Technologies
Leader in Biotechnology Education
Dr. Chirikjian was awarded National Science Foundation grant for teacher training in the area of biotechnology
Founded EDVOTEK, INC
Founded MS in Biochemistry, one of the first master’s in the field.
Inaugural class consisted of seven students.
Master’s program celebrated 10 years.
Master’s program name changed to MS in Biotechnology.
Biotechnology Program Celebrated 20 years of “Making Science Our Business.”
Dr. Chirikjian continued his full-time workload after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2016, and continued his dedication to students. He graduated over 800 masters’ students before he lost the battle on September 30.